David Weber’s Hell’s Foundations Quiver is the latest installment in his Safehold series, which started off as a Napoleonic Wars + Reformation mashup, but is at this point a Spanish-American War + Reformation mashup.

In this series, you can tell how good each book is by looking at the ratio of dialog (bad) vs. tech-infodump ‘n’ fighting (good). In the first third of this one, it was looking pretty talky; but fortunately the ratio improved, and it ends up as a medium-solid installment.

But so one caveat is: This is the eighth book in the series, and the war it’s telling has been going on for a long time with no obvious end in sight, and this book doesn’t change that. Stuff happens, but it’s hard to argue that the situation at the end of the book is significantly different than at the beginning. I can see a lot of people being annoyed by that.

Me, I’m good with it. I think one of the common failure modes of wars in fantasy books is that authors want them to be small things that happen quickly, and they end up feeling like just one big skirmish. Weber’s war feels like a global conflict, a true civilization-mobilizing total war, with random ups and downs and reversals. The longer timeframe helps to make the (still very rapid) pace of technological advance seem more plausible, too.

For all its very real flaws, I love this series and I’ll be fine if it goes on basically forever. I can’t recommend it unreservedly, but if it’s your kind of thing, you’ll probably like it a great deal.


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